Although a battle had ended in the Haldighati, the conflict still continued. Not only this, the stories of the Haldighati spread across the country. Especially in Delhi, Bengal and South India, the stalwart Mughal warriors used to spend several nights telling the stories of the Haldighati and the bravery of Pratap when they congregated in the evenings. This is a testimony of how the eminence of Pratap spread across the country so instantly after the battle of Haldighati.

Akbar was more disturbed and less satisfied on hearing the news of this army’s victory. He could not tolerate the fact that Rana Pratap could not be killed or captured. Pratap was staying in Kotyari village after the battle of Haldighati. After the departure of Man Singh he came to Gogunda and drove off the remaining Mughal soldiers. Pratap moved further and established his base in Kumbhalgarh once again. Pratap consolidated his alliances with the neighbouring kingdoms, obtained their assistance in creating troubles in the Mughal occupied territories and augmented his own strength. Pratap should be praised for his accomplishments despite those territories being sealed by the Mughals, but even more worthy of commendation are those who without bothering about the backlash from the emperor Akbar readily agreed to lay their lives for Pratap for the ‘freedom struggle.’ Earlier Pratap’s father-in-law, the king of Idar, Narayandas had accepted the suzerainty of Akbar. But now even he began attacking those territories adjoining Gujarat, which were under the imperial control. The king of Sirohi, Rao Surtan and the Nawab of Jalore, Taj Khan also started plundering and rioting on either side of the Aravali range and creating troubles in the Mughal territories close to Gujarat. Akbar become aware of the gravity of the situation and decided to break the friends of Pratap. Jalore and Sirohi were attacked and forced to submit. Narayandas of Idar was defeated but later with the assistance of Pratap fought and defeated the Mughal forces.

Akbar in Mewar

On 11 October 1576 Akbar proceeded from Ajmer to Gogunda to take on Pratap. The frontal contingents were sent ahead of the emperor everyday so that the army of Mewar could not attack him directly. Before Akbar could reach Gogunda, Pratap had gone to the mountains and Akbar made his headquarters there. He sent his men to follow and find Pratap but they returned empty handed. Akbar tried to establish his military posts from northeastern corner of the western mountain range to southeastern corner up to Udaipur so that Pratap could be trapped in the mountain region and be forced to surrender. Akbar stayed in and around Mewar for six months. He himself tried and found that capturing Pratap was not going to be an easy task at all. On 12th May 1577, Akbar returned to Fatehpur sikri.

First attack of Shahbaz Khan

After the departure of Akbar, Pratap came down from the mountains and started attacking the imperial posts and he also blocked the way to Agra via Mewar. Imperial police posts of Udaipur and Gogunda were lifted and officer of Mohi police post was killed. Akbar got irritated when he heard that Pratap had raised his head again. He was in Meerut and from there itself sent a ferocious army under the command of Shahbaz Khan along with a number of nobles, including Man Singh, Bhagwan Das, etc. to Kumbalgarh with a view to eliminate the Maharana completely.

Shahbaz proceeded towards Kumbhalgarh but to ensure that his arrangements were foolproof, he sent Raja Bhagwan Das and Man Singh back, considering that, being caste-fellows, they might turn hostile. Akbar did not say anything to Shahbaz Khan for tampering with his own scheme, which proves that he supported Shahbaz Khan to go to any length to take on Pratap. Shahbaz Khan went ahead and won the fort of Kelwara, located below Kumbhalgarh and from there started attacking the fort. The Rajputs told Pratap to leave the defence of Kumbhalgarh to them as if he died; there would be none to claim the authority to the Kingdom. Shahbaz Khan won Kumbhalgarh on 5th June 1578. This fort was built in 1452 and since then none of the enemies had captured it. After making necessary arrangements in Kumbhalgarh fort, Shahbaz marched towards Gogunda and captured it followed by Udaipur, both of which were plundered. He then followed the Maharana in the mountains but failed to capture him. He devastated Mewar and vandalized the places wherever he went and established fifty Mughal military posts there. He roamed around Mewar for three months and later returned to Akbar empty-handed.

After the departure of Shahbaz Khan, the Maharana came out of the mountains, attacked the imperial military posts and recaptured a large territory of Mewar. His forces started attacking the Mughal posts up to Malwa. As if this was not enough, the Rana sent his forces against the rulers of Banswara and Dungarpur who had surrendered before Akbar and won.

Second attack of Shahbaz Khan

On hearing the news Pratap’s exploits, Akbar sent Shahbaz Khan from Punjab (in December 1578) to Ajmer along with a host of men with an instruction that they would be beheaded if they return without defeating Pratap. Pratap went back to the mountains when Shahbaz Khan reached Mewar. He followed Pratap for two-three months but failed to capture him. Once again he returned after deploying efficient personnel in the Mughal military posts. After his return, the Maharana once again set his position right.

Third attack of Shahbaz Khan

In October 1579, Akbar went for a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Kwaja Muinuddin Chisti in Ajmer for the last time. His wishes had not yet been fulfilled in Mewar. Its pangs disturbed him so much that on reaching Sambher, he sent his forces under the command of Shahbaz Khan for the third time. Shahbaz Khan proceeded on 9 th November 1579 and stayed there till the middle of 1580. He applied all his might against Pratap. He removed the influence of the Maharana in the entire central Mewar. Pratap, as usual retreated to the mountains. Shahbaz Khan did not allow him to relax even in the mountains of Mewar. Pratap somehow protecting himself reached the mountain of Abu. The emperor had given strong orders to Shahbaz Khan while sending him to Mewar. He could not implement those orders and returned empty handed. Akbar got very angry with him and made Rustam Khan as the governor of Ajmer in his place. But Rustam Khan was killed within four months while suppressing an insurgence of the Kachwahas in Sherpura.

A taste of Rana’s chivalry

In 1580 Mirza Abdur Rahim Khan was appointed as the governor of Ajmer with an instruction to combat the Rana. But destiny was such that he got the glimpse of another greatness of Pratap. He proceeded towards Mewar and halted at Sherputa. His family was also with him. The eldest son of Pratap, Amar Singh attacked Sherpura and captured the Mirza’s family. When Pratap heard of it, he at once enjoined Amar Singh to free them and send them with all honour to Mirza. The Mirza’s heart was touched and the poet in him exclaimed-” Imperial possession would disappear but Dharm and the earth would always remain. The Rana trusting his gods has made his honour immortal” This fraternization rendered Abdur Rahim unfit for any more active service in Rajputana and he was later recalled.

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